Thursday, September 7, 2017
UPDATED (posted Sept. 8, 2017 at 8:50AM PST): NBC News reported last night that ICE has cancelled Operation Mega, citing Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. NBC news quotes ICE spokesman Sarah Rodriguez stating that "[d]ue to the current weather situation in Florida and other potentially impacted areas, along with the ongoing recovery in Texas, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had already reviewed all upcoming operations and has adjusted accordingly. There is currently no coordinated nationwide operation planned at this time. The priority in the affected areas should remain focused on life-saving and life-sustaining activities."
While the report appears to be that "no coordinated nationwide operation" is being planned, it not clear what this announcement means for areas of the country not directly impacted by Irma and Harvey.
(Content below was originally posted on September 7, 2017):
Major immigrant rights organizations across the country are now condemning and warning immigrant communities of possible immigration raids planned for the week of September 17-22.
Here's a statement from the National Immigrant Justice Center:
"Horrific Plan to Target 6,000 - 10,000 for Mass Deportation is Part of Escalating Attacks on Immigrants
Washington, DC — Detention Watch Network (DWN), the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), National Immigration Law Center, United We Dream (UWD) and the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) condemn Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) plan to conduct a nationwide immigration enforcement operation from mid- to late-September. Multiple sources within and close to ICE have shared information with advocates about the operation, which ICE is calling “Operation Mega.” In addition to apprehending targeted individuals prioritized in the president’s January 25 Executive Order, ICE agents will apprehend undocumented or otherwise removable individuals encountered during the operation, per ICE policy under the Trump administration. These raids are intended to be historic in size, targeting between 6,000 and 10,000 immigrants.
Operation Mega is part of a wholesale and escalating attack on all immigrants. In the wake of the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program on Tuesday, it is clear that this administration will not exercise restraint in enacting an anti-immigrant and white supremacist agenda. In fact, earlier this year, Trump’s top immigration agent declared that “no population is off the table.”
This operation would devastate immigrant communities, separate families and endanger lives. Enforcement operations inevitably and intentionally result in detentions of community members, key community leaders, primary caregivers and many others. Expanding the number of individuals in immigration detention this quickly is a recipe for cruel conditions, deaths, and rights violations on a massive scale.
In the most recent enforcement operation for which ICE released data, approximately 70% of individuals arrested were what ICE calls “collateral” arrests - undocumented individuals who face arrest and detention just because ICE encountered them while they were looking for someone else. The operation is scheduled to occur as Congress decides whether to fund a massive expansion of the immigration detention system.
“Operation Mega is a cynical attempt by ICE to manipulate the congressional appropriations process. It is no coincidence that this operation is planned for the last weeks of the government’s fiscal year. ICE is intentionally elevating detention numbers before the new fiscal year to claim an ‘operational need’ for more funding and more detention beds,” said Silky Shah, executive director of Detention Watch Network. “For too long, even members of Congress who have condemned attacks against immigrant communities have voted to fund ICE to implement those same attacks. With Operation Mega, ICE has once again shown its hand. ICE’s ‘need’ for additional funding is politically manufactured and neither Congress nor taxpayers should reward such cruel and cynical behavior.”
Greisa Martinez Rosas, advocacy director for United We Dream added, “Two days ago, Trump killed the DACA program which protected me and 800,000 immigrant youth from deportation. Today he has tried to deflect criticism by tweeting that immigrant youth had ‘nothing to worry about.’ Seriously? How can we not worry when we learn that ICE is about to launch massive raids? Congress needs to defund these agents who are armed to attack families and get to work now on passing a clean Dream Act. The time for action is now!”
Avideh Moussavian, Senior Policy Attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, condemned the planned operation, stating, “This administration is intent on making life for vibrant immigrant communities as painful as possible. Large scale raids operations designed to artificially manufacture the need for DHS’ mass detention and deportation budget are unconscionable. We remain undeterred in calling out DHS for terrorizing our communities and in calling on Congress to not allow our tax dollars to go to ICE and CBP agents separating immigrant families.”
"An operation of this massive scale would devastate immigrant communities and endanger lives. Families will be separated and children will be traumatized,” said Michelle Brané, Director for Migrant Rights and Justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “These actions do not make us safer. On the contrary, they undermine the rule of law by invoking fear and blatantly ignoring due process.”
Contrary to ICE’s intent to silence communities with fear, communities are instead prepared to defend themselves against these operations, which have occurred for years on a smaller scale. Groups are also encouraging local, state and federal elected officials to work with their constituents to record abuses and human rights violations committed by ICE agents in the community and in immigration detention centers. State and local elected officials should also take immediate steps to ensure that local and state resources are not used to help implement Operation Mega or other enforcement actions.
“We encourage community members at risk to review their safety plans and tips for how they can defend their rights if they encounter ICE,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director, National Immigrant Justice Center. “All people have the right to remain silent. If stopped or arrested, you do not have to answer an immigration agent’s questions. If an immigration agent knocks on your door and does not have a warrant, do not open the door.”
Know Your Rights!
Resources for the community include:
NIJC, Know Your Rights: Preparing for ICE Enforcement Actions
UWD Deportation Defense Card
Immigrant Defense Project: A toolkit to prepare and protect our communities
WRC: Resources for Families Facing Deportation and Separation"